Making the Invisible, Visible: Creating from the Margins (SPA4306.01)

Lena Retamoso Urbano

Heddy Honigmann, the Peruvian-born Dutch director of fictional and documentary films, is moved by stories, places, situations, and figures that follow a constant drive to find what the poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, called: “ultimately, the only courage we need … to face boldly the most peculiar, enigmatic, and inexplicable things we may encounter.” In this course, we will explore the different ways in which her documentaries, in dialogue with the works of a wide array of Latin American filmmakers such as Patricio Guzmán, Ignacio Agüero, and Karina Cáceres Pacheco, attempt this complicated, fleeting, and elusive mission. We will also dive into how their respective encounters with the unexpected and forgotten side of reality, beauty, and history raise awareness about the role of art, creativity, curiosity, openness, and empathy in helping to create a visual territory wherein those otherwise perishable experiences and marginalized voices and perspectives can circulate freely and become visible. The focus of the course is on student-generated discussion, and critical thinking about these media; however, continual practice in all four major areas of language (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) is essential. Students will develop their oral and written skills, progressing to a defense of ideas. We will examine grammatical and linguistic questions as they arise during our discussions. This course will also provide contextual support for future studies in Spanish, as well as other fields.

Learning Outcomes:
1) Gain a basic understanding of alternative ways to approach the cultural, social, historic, and artistic aspects of Latin America that have been portrayed by Latin American directors of documentary films.
2) Gain confidence in their ability to speak, read and write in Spanish about Latin American documentaries.
3) Develop critical thinking and analytical skills through discussions of documentaries.
4) Design an academic and/or creative project associated with documentaries from Latin America.

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Prerequisites: 2 terms of Spanish at Bennington or taking a brief oral and/or written test to evaluate proficiency. Email Lena Retamoso Urbano ( to express interest.
Corequisites: Attendance at 2 cultural studies and language events.
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 4
M/Th 10:00AM - 11:50AM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 18
Course Frequency: One time only

Categories: All courses , Fully In-Person , Spanish